Networking Effectively Using LinkedIn

by Theresa Putkey

As a self-employed Information Architect working on my MLIS, it’s important for me to learn and make connections by meeting people in my (or related) industries. After years of struggling with making the right connections – including a lot of time spent at networking events in vain – I finally hit upon an incredibly useful technique.

LinkedIn is a great resource to reconnect to people I meet and ask for introductions. This idea took me about six years to figure out. Since I’ve always struggled with how to market my services – “information architecture” and “information architect” aren’t phrases that everyone understands and when they do, they usually don’t find it relevant – I thought I might save you some pain and misery and share the idea.

My overall goal with using LinkedIn was to find people to do informational interviews with. Before LinkedIn implemented its Companies feature, I used to look through the profiles of my connections to see who they knew. But this was quite random and  took a long time, and resulted in a list of “blah”. I was never excited about it as I didn’t feel that my list was truly targeted.

Along comes the Companies feature and wham-o! Looking up the companies by category and (a somewhat limited) geography, I was able to find companies are potentially interested in the information architecture services I offer or have a director or manager with whom I could conduct an informational interview. Not only was I able to find these companies, but I was also able to find how I was connected to someone in this company. I concentrated on companies where I had one or two degrees of separation. This was an easy way to narrow down a long list of companies. You can also narrow them down by category.
Using LinkedIn’s Request for Introduction feature, I contacted my connection to ask for an introduction to the person I wanted to connect to. Not only does my reputation and credibility increase, but my LinkedIn profile information is also sent along with the introduction. With each introduction request, I send a well-written message outlining who I am and what I’m seeking. The message is tailored to the person with whom I want to interview. Most people are happy to talk and want to know how they can help you. Sometimes my answer is, “I just want to know more about the field” or “I would also like an introduction to this other person.”

Of the numerous informational interviews I’ve requested through LinkedIn, I’ve had a great success rate. I have been asked to participate in proposals and have bid successfully for two projects with one of the companies. The standard introduction took about 30 minutes to write and each specific introduction takes about 10 minutes. The overall time spent on this is quite low, considering I used to spend hours per week at networking events and would usually not meet anyone who was a good connection.

As a tip, before asking for the introduction, I come up with the questions I want to ask the interviewee. You might ask, “Why?” Well, it’s just in case the interviewee says he or she can talk immediately. This did happen to me – I asked one person for an interview and he requested to talk with me later in the day or the next day. His company was looking for an information architect and I just happened to ask for the introduction at the right time! Had I not been prepared, I really would have had to scramble.

As someone who is self-employed, I’m always after the next job. But I also believe that everyone should treat their careers as though they’re self-employed: always making connections, seeing who you can help, seeing who can help you. You never know when you might want to change jobs or when you might get laid off. Having connections already established is an excellent way to create a safety net, especially in careers where each job opening is extremely competitive.

Theresa Putkey is an independent information architect in Vancouver, Canada currently in her 4th semester at SLIS. Contact her at

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Darin


    Great advice about LinkedIn. I have one additional tip to add. I recently successfully used LinkedIn to find out who got hired in a job I unsuccessfully applied for. Like the article suggests, I used the "companies" feature. I then used the "new hires" tab which produced an individual who had the correct title ( she also shared two connections with me, which helps). By reading her blog (link from her profile) I discerned it was she who got the job. With her describing her new job on the blog I learned about the position, the organization and what type of individual they were looking for. After responding to a few of her blog posts I requested to get connected on LinkedIn. As long as your profile is fully flesh-out and you are making connections on a on-going basis, others could easily duplicate the effort I describe.

    Hope this helps.
    ~Darin Hoagland

  2. Theresa Putkey

    Looking at the job descriptions people put in for themselves would be a good way to find out what people *actually* do on a job (as opposed to what's listed in an official job description).

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